Although they sound like something straight out of a Hollywood film, drone-catching eagles are actually something that has been used by the Dutch police. Many may wonder why something like this was needed, and even how these birds were taught to do their job. Police in the Netherlands began the training of these birds in 2016, but have now determined that they aren’t quite working out the way they anticipated.
In early 2016, Netherland police decided to train eagles to catch drones. The thought behind this was that the eagle’s sharp talons would be no match for a drone and they would be able to quickly pluck them from the sky. What actually happened, was the birds were distracted during training and not up to par with what was needed in the field.
The use of the birds was going to protect various air spaces from drones. Places such as airports and other secure areas where drones were not supposed to fly would be monitored, and if needed, an eagle would be sent to retrieve any drones that violated air laws. Since the eagles didn’t always do as they were expected to, it made it hard on the cops to safely send the birds into these restricted areas. Many animal lovers also feared that the eagles would be injured by the fast-moving blades if they were only slightly off aim on their target drone.
Retiring these drone-retrieving eagles will also be a smart financial decision. The cost of maintaining the eagles is high compared to the amount that they are actually being used. Since it isn’t a cost-effective method for controlling rogue drones, they are now looking at other options. Some other ideas that are being considered are net-firing bazookas, which would wrap around the drones and pull them from the sky, “death-ray” machines that would cause the drone to fall from the sky, and drone-shield “Sky Fences” that would create a barrier to shut down drones if they attempted to cross into territory where they are not permitted. Any of these options are not only more cost-effective, but are also more reliable than the use of eagles.
It is clear that there is a need to protect certain areas from drones, especially as they continue to rise in popularity. It is great that the Dutch police department figured out that the Drone Eagles do not work that well before there was a real need for them. It’s not a safe risk to use an animal that can be easily distracted when there are so many other options that are much more technologically advanced and reliable.